MEDIA HEADLINER: Emap's straight-talking head will herald a return to basics. Miller will need to remove Emap dead wood to close in on IPC, Ian Darby writes

When speaking to Campaign four months ago, Kevin Hand was bullish

about his prospects at Emap. He said: "My aim is to out-perform the

market we are in and to make Emap even more of a multimedia group."



Last week, Hand resigned from his role as chief executive at Emap to be

replaced by Robin Miller, Emap's chairman. Hand managed to outperform

the market in one sense, however - he walked away with a year's salary,

rumoured to be more than pounds 400,000, and pounds 1.5 million in share

options.



Rightly or wrongly, Hand carried the can for the purchase of the

American publisher Petersen in 1999. Emap has had to write off a pounds

545 million drop in the value of Petersen as the publisher of titles

including Guns & Ammo failed to fire following a downturn in US

advertising revenues.



Critics of Emap also suggest that several other factors contributed to

Hand's downfall. Most obviously, the dire performance of Emap

Advertising in the first half of 2000, and investment in Emap Digital,

despite a downturn in the sector.



Following the management shake-up last week, Miller made it clear that

he believed buying Petersen was a mistake. He said: "We overpaid for the

US business and it did not deliver what we had anticipated."



Miller's straight talking and openness is typical of his approach, say

those that know him. Tim Brooks, the managing director of IPC Southbank

and a former Emap manager, says: "Robin is very trusting. The first time

I ever met him I was a journalist writing a profile interview. Not only

did he give an open interview but he was called out of his office and

left me alone in there for 25 minutes."



Miller himself started his career as a journalist. His reputation as a

petrol-head - he edited Motor Cycle News and still has a passion for

bikes - was superseded by his increasing profile as a publisher at Emap

during the 70s.



His move from chairman to chief executive is his second stint in the

role. He became the chief executive of Emap in 1985 and remained in the

post until 1998 when, after much manoeuvering, he landed the chairman's

job. Miller says that after three years as chairman he is now

"refreshed" and ready to return to the day-to-day running of the

business.



However, some observers claim that Miller's move from chairman to chief

executive is not as happy a picture as Emap has painted. One industry

source says: "Robin was very keen to be chairman and this contributed to

a huge boardroom split in 1997. I'd have thought it would be a

significant blow to him to be made chief executive."



Now 60, Miller has committed to two years in the role, prompting City

comments that he is a "safe pair of hands", guiding things along until

one of Emap's rising stars, likely to be Tom Moloney (who recently

returned from a stint in the US and is now the chief operating officer),

is ready to take over.



Even Miller's rivals concede that he still has a role to play. David

Arculus, the chairman of IPC Media and a former Emap colleague of

Miller's, says: "Robin is a talented, gritty guy and obviously played a

part in building Emap into a successful company."



Miller has promised to focus on core UK business to such an extent that

Emap will close the gap on IPC's UK market leadership. Media experts are

clear on what he needs to do to achieve this: concentrate on Emap's

success stories, the likes of FHM, Heat and key music titles, while

hiving off the underperforming titles.



Sorting out the wheat from the chaff is just one of Miller's pressing

concerns. He must also decide what to do with Emap Advertising and Emap

Digital.



Emap Advertising, the sales forced integrated across digital, radio and

magazines at Hand's behest, had a poor start. Sales for the first half

of 2000 were down by 3 per cent against buoyant market conditions.

However, Emap Advertising stresses that things are moving in the right

direction with revenues up 7 per cent in the final quarter of 2000.



Media agencies are divided on Emap Advertising. One press director says:

"Radio sales have been an enormous success but press is a disaster.

There is no continuity of service across their titles and my staff are

bored of it."



However, the head of press at another agency thinks that Emap

Advertising has turned the corner and increased service levels. Tom

Toumazis, the managing director of Emap Advertising and a close ally of

Hand, will clearly hope so or there may be swift action.



As well as his being personable and trustworthy, Brooks points to

Miller's "interrogative and probing" style of management, which should

see Emap through in the short term. Admittedly, it has reduced its

horizons, focusing on chasing IPC rather than overseas expansion, but

Miller might just be at home in this head-to-head scenario.



THE MILLER FILE

1970: Emap, editor, Motor Cycle News

1974: Emap, managing director of magazine division

1985: Emap, chief executive

1998: Emap, chairman

2000: Emap, chief executive





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